Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 2-0 victory away at relegation-threatened Cardiff on Super Sunday.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s third goal of the season (57) and a late James Milner penalty (81) sealed a ninth-consecutive victory for Jurgen Klopp’s side that restores their two-point lead over Manchester City.
Junior Hoilett nearly gave Cardiff the lead on the quarter-hour mark but, having opted against heading Joe Bennett’s cross from the right first time, Andrew Robertson had just enough time to block his low shot.
Two for one football offer
Liverpool dominated the ball, but that clinical edge in front of goal evaded them, Roberto Firmino ballooning over the bar on 22 minutes after Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane had combined on the edge of the area to release the Brazilian.
The pace of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing posed a real threat down Liverpool’s right but, having been left trailing in the winger’s wake, Trent Alexander-Arnold responded with his own foray forward, crossing to the near post 31 minutes when Mane deflected over from close range.
When Liverpool did find the target, Neil Etheridge was on hand in the Cardiff goal to keep the Reds at bay, racing off his line to smother Salah’s shot after he spun away from Bruno Ecuele Manga.
And Cardiff nearly ended the half with a flourish as Joe Ralls kept a corner alive, presenting Everton loanee Oumar Niasse with the chance to fire an acrobatic effort on target, which Alisson brilliantly tipped over.
Aron Gunnarsson passes a late fitness test as Neil Warnock named an unchanged after Cardiff win at Brighton. Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita were recalled by Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool made two changes following their midweek Champions League win in Porto.
Liverpool maintained the pressure on the Cardiff goal after the interval, Mane whipped a fierce shot on the roof of the net on 51 minutes before Alexander-Arnold flashed a shot wide from distance, but that pressure soon told.
Wijnaldum peeled away to the edge of the area to meet Alexander-Arnold’s corner and produced a devastating finish to round off a brilliantly-executed set-piece move and hand Liverpool the lead on 57 minutes.
Jordan Henderson should have doubled Liverpool lead shortly after the hour, but the Reds captain blazed over after Mane’s cutback found him unmarked six yards out.
But that miss paled into insignificance when Morrison somehow failed to find the target after Bennett’s in-swinging cross flashed through Alisson hands and found the Cardiff skipper three yards out, the ball cannoning off his back and behind for a goal kick.
And things went from bad to worse for Morrison as he hauled Salah to ground in the area, presenting Milner with the chance to seal the victory from the penalty spot with nine minutes remaining.